A replacement for the W580 with 3G and GPS that faces a tougher field. (November 17th, 2008)
Product Manufacturer: Sony Ericsson
Price: $130 (two years, AT&T); Rogers N/A
- Better build quality and controls.
- 3G, GPS improve speed and navigation.
- Still a good music phone in software.
- Good call quality.
- UIQ simple, effective, and improved.
- Pricing is steep for the actual feature set.
- 3G reduces practical battery life.
- Proprietary headset/data jack.
- Earbuds a step down from the W580.
- Access NetFront still a sub-par web browser at this price.
camera use and quality
The W760 brings a much-needed sensor increase from two to 3.2 megapixels, though this gain is more for the sake of producing cleaner, more detailed small or cropped images than would be possible before. However, that ultimately represents the extent of the changes. Sony Ericsson's final output is strictly average for a phone and can be noisy in less than bright light as well as prone to a slightly hazy look with the purple fringing artifacts on edges that comes from having a very small lens. There's no flash and zoom is strictly digital.
Sony Ericsson does go slightly above and beyond others in terms of settings; it's possible to adjust white balance, to shoot in bursts, or to force a night mode to avoid an underexposed shot at the expense of some image quality. All the same, the W760's camera is strictly there for preserving an impromptu moment when a separate camera isn't available. The K850, Nokia N95 or another camera-centric phones are decidedly better if on-the-spot photography is important enough to be a selling point.
As a mid-range feature phone, the W760 is largely what the W580 hoped to be and more: it's sturdy, performs well for calls and is more than capable for media from a software perspective. At a certain point in its lifetime, the W760 could easily be the go-to phone for carriers serving the bulk of their subscribers.
Simultaneously, though, it's apparent that the company is hitting the wall in terms of what it can do without significantly revamping its strategy. The custom accessory port limits Sony Ericsson's features and options, the slider provides little room for a flash or powerful optics, and the (relatively) small screen doesn't help either. Moreover, the simpler earbuds now push anyone who's more than a casual listener to pay for a separate upgrade. That's potentially dangerous when many phones that cost the same or less now don't have this problem.
And while that isn't an issue by tiself, one gets the distinct impression that Sony Ericsson is pricing the W760 as though it were a premium item; with AT&T, it costs $130 attached to a two-year plan (Rogers will pick up the W760 but hasn't set out its pricing). That's the same price as a Samsung Instinct (more in Canada) and frequently higher than the cost of a BlackBerry Pearl or Pearl Flip. The W760 does have its advantages, including a smaller profile, but a customer who isn't tied to any one carrier or likes the AT&T and Rogers alternatives could very well be lured away, especially if they have the extra $70 to move to an iPhone 3G. Many of these phones might not have the 3.2-megapixel camera, but they have more advanced web browsers, smartphone-level apps, and full 3.5mm headphone jacks.
As such, recommendations could well depend on when, exactly, this review is read. It would be difficult to persuade an AT&T customer to rush out in November 2008 and buy a W760 when it's still carried at its full price. That could change, and may not be the case at all for Rogers when its pricing goes public. Until then, however, the W760's greatest appeal will be to UIQ fans or those who want 3G, GPS and music in the smallest possible size and are willing to accept legacy design habits.